The Guilt Game

The bold and brilliant Saladin Ahmed joins me for Episode #8 to answer two listener-submitted questions about very specific types of book guilt. Saladin and I act as judges in the “Guilt Game,” deciding whether or not these people should feel guilty about things like not buying a book when you visit a book store, not finishing a book you’ve started, taking out library books when other people might need them more, and how not to act like a jerk to booksellers and authors. Have a listen!

Saladin Ahmed is author of the Hugo-award nominated novel Throne of the Crescent Moon. Thank you for joining me, Saladin! And if any of you, dear readers, ever want to guest co-host with me on the show, fear not. You WILL survive.

This episode was sponsored by Oyster. Thanks, Oyster!


Questions Discussed:

Dear Book Nerd,

I feel obligated to buy a book every time I go to a bookstore, but is it wrong if I DON’T buy one? My brother recently came to visit me and wanted to visit every obscure bookstore possible in New York, and each and every time, I felt some kind of need to buy something just to help keep them alive. I don’t necessarily dislike getting new books, but after a while it’s a pricey obligation to feel, and GASP! I kind of prefer ebooks at this point. Can you help me clear my conscience if I walk out un-booked next time?

– Mickey

Dear Book Nerd,

I am in my Golden Years. OK, Platinum Years. When I was a lot younger, I would plug away doggedly through every book I picked up, when I liked it or not. But these days, I don’t have the patience for that. I give a book 50 pages. If it hasn’t grabbed me by the throat in that amount of time, I abandon it. I feel guilty. Should I persevere through the whole thing? Give it 100 pages instead? Am I asking too much of a book to seize my lapels in only 50 pages?

Hope Springs Eternal

Dear Book Nerd,

Just recently found your site and podcasts and love them! So many books and so little time! I often find myself spending sooooo much time trying to choose what to read as I know I will never get to all I want to read in my lifetime. And I don’t want to waste time on a book that I truly don’t enjoy, with the exception of books chosen by my book club members of whom I don’t want to offend by not finishing their book. Wondering how all of you at BookRiot choose a book and how long do you give a book to really interest you before you scrap it and not finish it? Does it make a difference in the price you paid for it before you quit reading it? And do you feel guilty for not finishing a book?


Dear Book Nerd:

I have something I’m a bit torn about and wanted to get your opinion. I read a fair amount, and find I gravitate to my public library to borrow books, both in ebook and book formats. I borrow quite a bit, and often request interlibrary loans if my library doesn’t have the book I want. It’s great, but I feel a little guilty about it because I can afford to buy these books myself. I’m not rich by any means, but it would not be a hardship to purchase the books. I also don’t think I’m cheap or overly frugal; I just like borrowing from the library and taking advantage of what it offers. But I feel bad that perhaps I am taking opportunities away from people who might rely more on the library to find the book they want to read, and don’t have other ways of getting that book. Appreciate your thoughts! Thank you.

Guilty for Borrowing


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